In the desperate hours of early January, with chatter spreading that the White House was poised to make a devastating statement opposing parts of proposed anti-piracy legislation that Hollywood studios considered key to the industry’s very survival, MPAA president Christopher Dodd made a phone call to DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Katzenberg’s company is not an MPAA member, but a list of the top 10 fund-raisers bundling money for President Obama would include not only Katzenberg but also his political adviser, Andy Spahn. It would not include any of the chiefs whose studios belong to the MPAA. So the former U.S. senator reached out, he says, to find out about the thinking inside the White House.
“The rumors were running rampant,” says Dodd. “I was trying to use all the information points I could to find out what was going on.”
Dodd says that at the time of his call, he had been assured no major actions were imminent. Then, on Jan. 14, the administration said it would not support legislation “that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”
“They just made up their mind to do it,” says Dodd. “I raised issues about it, but they were going to march ahead.”
And the article notes the damage to Dodd’s reputation and effectiveness as a lobbyist caused by this remark:
In the days after the controversial House version of the bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, was derailed, Dodd belittled those who opposed it and threatened Democrats who had fled when the bill became radioactive. Perhaps his worst post-defeat move came Jan. 19 when he told Fox News that “those who count on, quote, ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake.” There was an instant outcry, including a petition on the White House website calling on the administration to investigate Dodd for “bribery.” (In less than a week, it had attracted more than 21,000 signatures.)
As I previously noted, that remark by Dodd does seem to come close to an offer of a direct quid pro quo of money for legislative action.
- Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia: MPAA CEO Christopher Dodd should be fired (nextlevelofnews.com)
- Petition: investigate Chris Dodd for fraud (boingboing.net)